This wild rice salad is bejeweled with cranberries, apricots and pecans and dressed with orange shallot vinaigrette. It's The perfect side dish for Thanksgiving or any festive meal.
There are a lot of good reasons to cook wild rice right now. It's one of those ingredients that we don't hear a lot of hype about, probably because it's not produced or consumed in large quantities. Wild rice is a nutritious whole grain. It's got protein and fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals including folate, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, Vitamin B6, and niacin. It has an interesting texture and a unique toasty earthy flavor that has great synergy with bright citrusy ingredients like dried cranberries, apricots and orange. I pretty much ignore wild rice most of the year but it always finds its way into my grocery cart and onto my table in the fall. And because it makes such rare appearances, it always feels special.
I developed this recipe with the holidays in mind. It's delicious and festive, much of it can be prepared ahead, and it's best served at room temperature. It's also a great choice if you need a gluten-free holiday side dish. The salad is an equal mix of white and wild rice, bejeweled with dried fruits, toasted pecans and a generous amount of caramelized onions, all tossed in a citrus shallot vinaigrette.
I tried a new technique to caramelize the onions for this salad. Actually it's an old technique that my grandmother used that I recently learned about from my Aunt. My Grandmother Fay owned a kosher hotel in the Catskill mountains called Sunny Oaks. The Sunny Oaks kitchen had several large deep industrial ovens which were always roaring away, roasting chickens or briskets, baking kugels or stuffed cabbage rolls. What I learned from my aunt is that my grandmother was perpetually caramelizing onions in those ovens. She always had big trays of sliced onions and oil tucked into the back of the ovens, behind the chickens and kugels, so she could enjoy a steady supply of sweet caramelized onions to make chopped liver or whatever else she needed them for. She also loved to cook with the delicious onion-flavored oil that resulted.
I didn't include this technique in the recipe but if you'd like to try it: slice two onions. Put them in a baking pan with 1 cup of olive oil. Cook at 350ºF for 2 ½ hours, stirring every half hour. Store the onion-flavored oil in a covered jar in the fridge and use it to cook eggs or to make a stir-fry or anything else that would benefit from the caramelized onion flavor.
I'm not sure if I'll be posting another recipe until after Thanksgiving. Two of my sons are flying home for the holiday. I'm hosting this year and so far the only thing I've done to prepare is order the turkey. So if we don't connect before next Thursday I wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!
In the meantime, here are a few recipes you might want to save for your leftovers:
- My absolute favorite Curried
- Delicious Turkey Soup with Turkey Kreplach (dumplings)
- A round-up of Global Recipes for Thanksgiving Leftovers, from Cooking Light.
Here's the Wild Rice Salad Recipe. If you cook this, I hope you'll come back to leave a star rating and a comment. I'd love to know what you think.Print